Catch-22: Token Women Trying to Reconcile Impossible Contradictions between Organisational and Societal Expectations

Maryam Aldossari*, Sara Chaudhry, Ahu Tatli, , Cathrine Seierstad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Extending tokenism theory, and Kanter’s work on numerical representation within organisations, we emphasise the societal context of gender inequality in order to understand token women’s lived experiences at work. Based on analysis of 29 in-depth interviews in a multinational (MNC) situated in the distinctive socio-institutional setting of Saudi Arabia, the article expands Kanter’s typology of roles, to capture token assimilation in a context-embedded way. In particular, we explore the interaction of a seemingly Western MNC espousing liberal values, rules and norms with the enduring patriarchal and traditional context of Saudi Arabia. Further adding texture to Kanter’s theory, this study reveals that the organisational context cannot be seen as fundamentally neutral and inevitably interacts with the societal context, resulting in unique manifestations of tokenism.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Early online date17 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

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